Patenting Swimming Gear
Can I Patent Swimming Gear?
Yes, technology for swimming can be patented just like any other invention. The inventor of new swimming gear can draft patent claims and file a patent application directed to that new technology. To be patentable, the swimming gear must be “new,” that is different from all swimmer gear existing before it.
In addition to being “new,” the invention must not be an obvious variation of swim gear that existed when the new swimming gear was invented. The legal test for obviousness is often very complicated. The test of “obviousness” is called the Graham Test, which we wrote about it in an early post.
As a rough guide, an inventor should be able to receive patent protection on any significant improvement over the state of the art. (For example, a better kickboard, a new haircare composition, or a new design for a hand paddle). In the case of swim gear: the greater the difference from existing gear, the more likely it is that the invention can be patented. Also, if the invention provides an unexpected benefit beyond similar swimming gear, then it is probably patentable.
Subject to the above requirements (new and not obvious), most categories of swimming gear should give rise to patentable subject matter. For example, innovations in clothing, training aids, diagnostic tools, pool equipment, chemicals, sports drinks, and personal care items could all be patented.
Innovative swimmers have been developing new products for decades. For example, in 1988, Eney Jones patented the Eney Bouy, which us patented in U.S. Patent No. 4,929,205. Recently, Playcore invented a new Colorado Timing Systems Titanium deck plate for Colorado Timing Systems. See US Patent Number 8,602.815 (“Swimming pool deckplate for horizontal surfaces with integrated slopes around electrical contacts”).
Chadeayne LLC’s President, Dr. Andrew Chadeayne has personal experience patenting products for swimmers. Several years back, he developed the first chlorine removal product that actually eliminates chlorine from hair and skin. Because of his expertise in chemical patent law, he filed a handful of patent applications directed to SwimSpray. Those patent applications have been instrumental in developing SwimSpray’s business.
How to patent swimming technology?
As stated above, patenting swimming technology should follow roughly the same course as patenting other technology. In the swimming arts, the inventive process could follow a path like this:
- The inventor has an idea for a swimming product;
- the inventor refines the idea;
- the inventor designs a prototype;
- the inventor builds the prototype and tests it;
- the inventor refines the prototype and builds a commercial embodiment.
The above scheme may skip steps or include additional steps. In any event, one clear omission in the list above is filing a patent application. To own the invention, the inventor must claim the invention in a patent application.
When should the inventor of a new swimming technology file a patent application?
The inventor should file a provisional patent application before disclosing the invention to others. Ideally the inventor should file a patent application as soon as they can clearly define and describe the invention. The inventor does not need to build the invention or even make a prototype. The inventor only needs to provide clear instructions for how someone in the industry could make and use the invention.
Filing a provisional patent application allows the inventor to discuss the idea with potential business partners while minimizing the risk of having the idea stolen. Filing a provisional patent application also gives the inventor one year to refine the invention and file a regular patent application.